File photo by Jessica Lum

The Roxie Theater on 16th Street is one step closer to serving beer during film screenings now that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has adopted a resolution supporting the move.

After the theater had spent more than a year jumping through bureaucratic hoops, supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to recommend that the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control grant the single-screen theater a beer license.

The state agency has the last say, however, and it’s not clear when it will make a decision.

Last fall, the Board granted the Roxie and the newly opened Mission Bowling Club exemptions from the Mission Alcohol Beverage Special Use District, which bans businesses from obtaining liquor licenses in the Mission. Since those exemptions were granted, other businesses have demanded that the neighborhood liquor license moratorium be lifted.

Some members of the Board are looking to revamp the system.

“I can’t let the opportunity go by to criticize the Mission’s Alcohol Special Use District,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener. “That’s a bad way to do policy, so Supervisor [David] Campos and I are working closer together to come up with a broader reform so we don’t have to do one-off’s, and have a more vibrant Mission while keeping the spirit of the special use district alive.”

The moratorium, established in 1996, has not stopped businesses from obtaining liquor licenses — they are still free to buy licenses from other venues in the city.

At the Board meeting, Supervisor Jane Kim amended the recommendation to allow theater patrons to drink inside the theater rather than just in the lobby, as was originally suggested. The beverage department will make the final determination.

The Roxie, built in 1913, has been struggling to stay afloat, and like other single-screen theaters sees adult beverages as a potential source of revenue.

“As you know, small single theaters struggle to stay open and this is one option that would help them remain in the community,” said Kim.

George Rush, the lawyer representing the Roxie, agreed in a letter to the Board.

“An Alcohol license for the Roxie will help the theater stay financially afloat and allow it to continue to provide a venue where the community can see important small films, which are rarely, if ever, showcased at the megaplex,” Rush wrote.

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Rigoberto Hernandez is a journalism student at San Francisco State University. He has interned at The Oregonian and The Orange County Register, but prefers to report on the Mission District. In his spare time he can be found riding his bike around the city, going to Giants games and admiring the Stable building.

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